Grand Canyon had perhaps its worst season under Dan Majerle in 2019-20. The Lopes were 13-17 overall and 8-8 in WAC play. Perhaps the big number that led to Majerle’s dismissal was the eight home losses. Yes, you read that correctly. GCU lost eight home games including a 9-point loss on opening night to Division II opponent Davenport. Other home losses included an 11-point loss to Purdue Fort Wayne and a 24-point drubbing at the hands of Northern Iowa. Want to hear even more bad news about home games in Phoenix? California Baptist, Utah Valley and UTRGV all won at GCU Arena for the first time since joining the WAC.
Here is the kicker, GCU had a solid roster. Carlos Johnson and Alessandro Lever were back. Highly-touted freshman guard Jovan Blacksher Jr. was in a Lopes uniform. Mikey Dixon, Isiah Brown, and TCU transfer Jaylen Fisher were going to bring a WAC championship to Phoenix.
Well, the wheels came off early. Fisher never took the floor for the Lopes. Starting forward Oscar Frayer had academic issues and never saw the floor in 2019-20. And there was just no consistency or chemistry in Dan Majerle’s final season at GCU.
Now, Bryce Drew inherits a lot of that talent in his first season at GCU. Drew and his staff also hit the recruiting trail hard, bringing in Wichita State big man Asbjørn Midtgaard, Oregon State guard Sean Miller-Moore and two true freshman who should have an immediate impact in Jayden Stone and Liam Lloyd. Forward Gabe McGlothan is now healthy after missing the 2019-20 season due to injury and Drew expects McGlothan to have a significant impact in 2020-21.
Carlos Johnson, Isiah Brown, Lorenzo Jenkins
Johnson led GCU to the WAC semifinals in 2018-29 and in 2019-20 was second on the team in scoring at 15.5 points per game. In most games, when something had to get done, the ball was in Carlos Johnson’s hands. Johnson started 29 of 30 games in his final season at GCU. Isiah Brown was at GCU for one season and added some depth at the point guard position behind Jovan Blacksher JR. Brown transferred to Weber State after the firing of Dan Majerle. Lorenzo Jenkins didn’t put up huge numbers. Just added some depth to the GCU roster.
Alessandro Lever, Jovan Blacksher Jr., Oscar Frayer, Mikey Dixon, Gabe McGlothan
Bryce Drew inherits a good does of talent in his first season at GCU. Blacksher Jr. is the reigning WAC Freshman of the Year. Lever is a first team All-WAC selection. Oscar Frayer may be one of the most athletic combo guards in the WAC. Mikey Dixon has explosiveness that wasn’t often used in 2019-20. And Gabe McGlothan is a big body that adds depth on the interior for the Lopes. McGlothan is a key returner despite sitting out 2019-20 due to an injury. But the Southeast Louisiana transfer has some high upside with his size and ability to stretch the floor.
Asbjørn Midtgaard, Sean Miller-Moore, Jayden Stone, Liam Lloyd
Adding a 7-footer is always a good thing and Asbjørn Midtgaard is just that. Midtgaard transferred in from Wichita State and got a waiver to play immediately. What Midtgaard provides is depth and a big body for Alessandro Lever to compete against in practice, something GCU hasn’t had in recent years. Sean Miller-Moore is an athletic guard that can play multiple positions at 6-4. Miller-Moore also received a waiver to play immediately after transferring from Oregon State.
Stone and Lloyd are a pair of highly-touted true freshman. Stone is a McDonald’s All-American nominee after leading Sunrise Christian to a 22-3 record against a national prep schedule. At 6-4, 180 pounds, Stone can play either the 1 or 2 spots on the floor giving head coach Bryce Drew some more options. Lloyd is a 6-5, 190-pound combo guard that led Gonzaga Prep to two state championships and 69-10 overall record in three seasons as a varsity player. Lloyd averaged 23 points, six assists and six rebounds at Gonzaga Prep while shooting 41 percent from beyond the arc.
Bryce Drew – 1st season
Projected Starting Lineup:
G – Jovan Blacksher Jr., sophomore, 5’11, 155 pounds
G – Sean Miller-Moore, senior, 6’4, 200 pounds
F – Oscar Frayer, redshirt senior, 6’6, 195 pounds
F – Gabe McGlothan, redshirt sophomore, 6’7, 220 pounds
C – Alessandro Lever, senior, 6’10, 235 pounds
Projected finish in WAC standings:
What to expect:
Bryce Drew is back to coaching after taking a hiatus to be an analyst on ESPN. Drew has taken two schools, Valparaiso and Vanderbilt, to the NCAA tournament. However, the King of the Hill in New Mexico State still lingers and GCU just hasn’t been able to knock the Aggies off their pedestal. Size, experience, and a youth movement may lead to success in his first season at GCU. But, Drew and company have a long road ahead in 2020-21. Depth is essential in this craziness of the COVID-19 pandemic and GCU has some at all positions.
Playing up-tempo as well as physical on offense is what GCU will be about in 2020-21. Expectations are always high among the GCU brass. And with Drew at the helm, excitement is oozing out of the West Phoenix campus. But, that excitement doesn’t always equate to wins. The Lopes must win at GCU Arena. 8-8 at home especially in the Havocs are allowed into games won’t cut it. GCU gets to host New Mexico State on back-to-back nights, but GCU hasn’t had much success beating the Aggies at GCU Arena. Can Bryce Drew work some magic like he did as a player at Valparaiso? It remains to be seen.